The Province of Málaga has endless fascinating places to visit, whether your interest is cultural or historical. One of the stunning hidden gems of this province can be found inland, an hour away from the Moorish history of Málaga City: el Torcal de Antequera.
How El Torcal was Formed, Where It Can Be Found, and Things to Do
The park is known for its fascinating and unusual rock formations. According to historians, the process of forming El Torcal started with the movements of the Earth’s crust, forcing the terrain to move upwards into hills and mountains. The limestone retained its horizontal formation and, in the millions of years that have since past, the Earth’s elements have chiselled away at the limestone to form the distinctive shapes.
While it’s known as “El Torcal de Antequera”, the 17 square kilometre (6.6 square mile) park is located within the town limits of Villanueva de la Concepción, a 19 kilometre (11.8 mile) drive to the south of Antequera. The limestone park sits between the two towns, with the Visitor’s Centre being located on the south side of the park, closer to Villanueva de la Concepción.
The Visitor’s Centre includes a museum, a cafeteria and an information centre about the park and the wildlife. El Torcal is well known for its interesting flora and fauna, and is also popular amongst orchid lovers, with over 30 varieties of orchid growing within the park.
Walking Routes in El Torcal de Antequera
The area is a hit with hikers and walkers. There are three different well-known routes, depending on what distance you want to cover, and how difficult you want the trail to be. The shortest and easiest route, known as the Green Route, is just 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) and is expected to take around half an hour to complete.
The Yellow Route is 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) and walks through the majority of El Torcal’s green area. This route is especially popular, as it takes walkers to “Las Ventanillas” (translating to “The Windows” in English), a 1200 metre (3940 feet) high viewing point with panoramic views of the valley and the province of Málaga.
The Red Route is popular for those who want more of a challenge. It’s 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) long and takes around three hours to complete. However, the even better perk of this more challenging route is the 1339 metre (4395 feet) viewing point, from which one can see the entirety of El Torcal Park and, on a clear day, the Northern African Coastline.
2016 Saw El Torcal be Added to the UNESCO Site “Antequera Dolmens”, Including the Tragic Lovers’ Rock
On July 15th, 2016, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) added El Torcal de Antequera to their Antequera Dolmens Site on the prestigious World Heritage list. The site also includes the fascinating Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Rock).
When visiting El Torcal, if you’re visiting from Málaga direction, you’ll most likely drive past Lovers’ Leap, or Lovers’ Rock. The horizontal profile of the limestone shows an Indian man’s face, giving it the nickname of the Montaña del Indio (Indian Man’s Mountain). The 880 metre high limestone overlooks Antequera and the valley. It’s name, Lovers’ Rock, comes from local legend and has been used in several literary pieces over the years.
According to the legend, when Ibrahim was the ruler of the castle of Archidona, his Muslim daughter Tazgona was to be wed to the old chief of the Abraham fortress. Tazgona, in reality, was in love with Hamlet, a Christian man from an Antequeran family, whom Tazgona supposedly met when visiting Christian soldiers in prison. Tazgona later helped Hamlet escape from the prison and they ran away. Chased by Moorish soldiers to the top of the rock, instead of allowing themselves to be captured or renounce their love, as they held hands, they leaped from the top of the rock, sealing the tragic fate behind its name.
Visiting El Torcal de Antequera
If visiting from Antequera, the park is located 15km south of the town on the A-7075. Turn right into Villanueva de la Concepción.
If visiting from Málaga, you’ll be heading around 20km north on the A-45 motorway. When you get to km 145, you’ll come off at the village of Casabermeja and head west on the A-7075. The road going to El Torcal de Antequera is 3km after Villanueva de la Concepción on the left.
When visiting, please keep in mind that the area is subject to extreme temperatures due to its location and elevation. The most popular visiting seasons are in spring and autumn.
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